Vast amounts of ink have been spilled pointing out how our attempts at charity go about it wrong. TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie came under fire for his model, which donated a pair of shoes to someone in a developing country for each pair sold, arguably leaving foreign markets flooded with an overabundance of shoes and putting locals out of business. (Mycoskie may be improving his business model these days.) Other criticized aid ideas include cartons of unwanted T-shirts sent to African nations; short-term missions trips, if not planned well; and, generally, any idea that involves a relatively wealthy and privileged person thinking she can use physical resources to stem the tide of a disaster by buying, building, or visiting.
Elizabeth Gerhardt would add to that list our project-based attempts to alleviate gender violence.
Too many Christians, she says, are blind to institutional frameworks — some as close as our own families, churches, and communities — that perpetuate gender violence as Christians go about planning fundraisers and mission trips that, at best, bandage the festering issue.
"Calls to care for the poor and oppressed and to denounce unjust systems that maintain material and physical deprivation are often met by resistance by faithful Christians," Gerhardt says in her new book, The Cross and Gendercide (InterVarsity, 2014). "Philanthropy and charity are often applauded and encouraged while the call for changes in systems that support injustice is met with suspicion and division within the Christian community."
And gender violence is no small problem. According to the World Health Organization, around one-third of all women in the world have experienced some form ...1
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